MAY 20, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO I've
been tracking this one down for a while, and while details are
still forthcoming, I know some culinary globetrotters will be happy
to hear chef ~NORIYUKI SUGIE~, most recently of
New York's Asiate at the Mandarin Oriental, is involved in
a project in the Upper Haight. I know, the Haight, how unexpected.
Nori Sugie is known and admired for his elegant and refined Franco/Euro-Japanese
fusion style—he was mentor to Joel Huff of Silks, cooked
at Charlie Trotter's in Chicago, and was at Tetsuya in Sydney,
where he won "Restaurant of the Year" twice. Even more
interesting, this new project is going to be in the Spencer House,
an eight-room Queen Anne-style Victorian B&B—somewhat mimicking the "ryokan" (auberge)
concept you'd encounter in Japan. Initially it seems only
hotel guests will be able to experience his omakase-style (chef's
choice) dinners, and some private dinners might be in the works
too. And there are discussions of a sashimi-tapas concept for another
downstairs room in the hotel—all TBD for now while he works
out details. Chef Sugie mentioned he's inspired to do a California-meets-Japanese
style of cuisine here, full of fresh organic vegetables and flavors—he
also said he loves bar food. Things are a few months off, I'll
have more deets later, you can count on it. The Spencer House,
1080 Haight St. at Broderick.
the meantime, folks in Los Angeles are going to continue enjoying
temporary guest chef stint (called CRUDOBAR) at BREADBAR
in Century City, which was just extended for a couple more months.
Examples of a few dishes he's doing: blue fin tuna tartar
with pickled fennel, dry caper, and sushi rice puree, and black
cod sliders with leafy mizuna, pickles, wasabi tartar sauce, and
rumor I heard earlier this month proved to be true: Ryan Scott,
most recently of Myth Café and the current season of Top
Chef, will be a chef and partner in the petite ~MISSION
joining Bill Clarke and Alan Carter in the project. Hmmm, perhaps
my article for San
Francisco magazine on the up-and-coming North
Mission neighborhood was prescient? Scott begins June 23rd—he'll
be integrating his Cali-fresh style of cooking (read: no piccata),
and will keep prices affordable for lunch and dinner. I'll
have some menu details soon. 198 Guerrero St. at 14th St., 415-861-0198.
we're talkin' ~TOP CHEF~, you
have until Tuesday, May 27th (until 12:01pm ET) to vote for your
fan favorite! The chef who receives the most votes during the promotion
period will be eligible to receive $10,000. Here's how you
can vote: vote for free here.
Limit 40 votes per person (20 vote limit per week) regardless of
voting method between May 14, 2008 at 9pm ET and May 27, 2008 at
Here's one big, fat, interesting and completely
unconfirmed rumor, but I had to share it: ~GORDON RAMSAY~ may be looking into the Myth space. Fun one to think about, will
let you know if it's even remotely real. I have also heard
rumors involving a dining duo who are much closer to home, but
that's all just talk too. Stand by for more transmissions!
Eater had the scoop on the closure of downtown's ~LES AMIS~,
which I'm honestly surprised didn't happen months ago—total
crickets in there. Shame, because the space was kind of cool. I'd
heard some buzz a few months back about potential purchasers of
the space, but nothing final to report at the moment. 568 Sacramento
St. at Montgomery, 415-291-9145.
~TINDERBOX RESTAURANT~ in
Bernal Heights has temporarily closed as of this last Saturday,
May 17th. Owners Ryan Russell and Blair Warsham (aka "Food
Freaks" as they say on their website) are back in the think
tank (but don't put them in a box!), and plan to reopen the
venue with a different concept later this summer. They are discussing
hosting reservations-only dinner events several times a week, collaborating
with musicians and artists (supperclub lite?), and want to expand
the Tinderbox catering service. Look for more around August at
the same address. 803 Cortland Ave. at Ellsworth, 415-285-8269.
rebel with a culinary cause: more details have emerged about "Dissident
Russell Jackson's restaurant on Pier 5. The 2,100-square-foot
bay-front space will open this winter as ~LAFITTE~.
Architect Michael Guthrie (Myth, Bix, Tra Vigne, and Spoon) is
designing the space, which includes an outdoor patio, and how's
this for a feature: pleasure boats will eventually be able to pull
up to Pier 5, where the restaurant is located.
It wouldn't be a week in San Francisco without some wine
bar news. In an interesting twist, it looks like Luisa Hanson is
expanding her ever-growing empire to the Mission: ~LA VINO
TECA~ is opening in the former Caffe Bellissimo space
next to Kiji. Yes, it's the same name as the place she just
opened in Cow Hollow, in the former Skipjack Sushi space. 1007
Guerrero St. at 22nd St.
few weeks ago I mentioned ~MAGNOLIA
GASTROPUB & BREWERY’S~ upcoming
changes... Please note due to some ever-present construction
delays, Magnolia won't reopen until this Thursday at 5pm for
dinner (not Wednesday as hoped). 1398 Haight St. at Masonic,
In mid-June, ~LEVEL III~ will be opening in Union Square's new 337-room JW Marriott
San Francisco (formerly the Pan Pacific). It's a stylish
freestanding restaurant and lounge on the third floor lobby level.
The space will transform into more of a bar vibe in the evening,
with a custom cocktail menu by H. Ehrmann of Elixir. There will
be a variety of spaces to linger in, from the communal table to
the bar, with both high and low seating options, either in the
main restaurant or lounge. Executive chef Ben Mattman and chef
Ryan Jette have put together a modern American menu, with bar bites
like littleneck clams on the half shell with chorizo and breadcrumbs,
saffron seafood chowder, and tempura asparagus. Larger dishes include
a lobster club, American Kobe sliders, halibut tacos, and a three-course
$45 menu devised for the pre-theater crowd, available from 5:30pm–10pm.
Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the menus at Level III will
change throughout the day. JW Marriott, 500 Post St. at Mason,
now, a few yogurt updates around town—they are like
the new wine bars, I swear. According to a tablehopper reader sighting
(thank you!), the ~SOGREEN~
yogurt shop window in Crocker Galleria is announcing its opening
this Thursday, May 22nd. 50 Post St. at Montgomery, Space 10, Level
And then according to a post on Craigslist, ~YOGURT BAR~ on Union (2760 Octavia St., actually) is expanding to a new location
mid-June 2008, at 680 Mission St. between 2nd and 3rd St.
details on my mention last week concerning ~LA
moving into the Pagoda Palace Theater on Washington Square (next
to old Washbag space). I spoke with consultant Martin Kirkwood
of Terra Nova Projects, and he filled me in that even though
the planning commission meeting is slated for August, the soonest
we'd even see anything would be 2010. Owner Joel Campos
has had the space for four years, but due to the Telegraph
Hill Dwellers' objections, the project continues to be stymied (he has submitted
ten different designs and concepts for the building, and counting).
And so the building remains unused. 1741 Powell St. at Union.
case you like making reservations (I do), ~SERPENTINE~
in Dogpatch is now taking them. 2495 3rd St. at 22nd St., 415-252-2000.
that the fog has returned, it feels like the perfect time to
partake in some meat. Wild boar carnitas, anyone? How about some
yak Rossini, or rack of wapiti? The Big 4's annual ~WILD
GAME WEEK~ is now being held twice a year: this new springtime
session starts today, and will run until Friday the 24th of May.
You can look at the menu here.
The second Wild Game Week of 2008 will occur in early November.
The Huntington Hotel, 1075 California St. at Taylor, 415-474-5400.
I imagine there will be quite the turnout for this event: ~MAYOR
GAVIN NEWSOM AND ALICE WATERS~ will be at an upcoming
CitySpeaks, a forum to discuss "A Vision for Good, Sustainable,
Fair Food" on Monday, June 2nd at 7pm (doors open at 6:30pm).
Seating is limited, so respond quickly, by May 29th to 415-554-6279
San Francisco Main Library, Koret Auditorium—enter at 30
Grove Street and proceed to the lower level.
your calendar: ~MARIQUITA FARM NIGHT~ is
Thursday, June 12th, at Piccino
for a "guerilla vegetable delivery" from 5pm–7pm
from a van stuffed to the max with generously packed $25 "mystery
boxes." For details and to order, click
801 22nd St. at Tennessee, 415-824-4224.
in the East Bay, the BIG NEWS is that ~CAMINO~,
Russell Moore's and Allison Hopelain's first solo restaurant,
is officially open! I toured the space a month or so ago, and can't
wait to see that huge fireplace in action, and the long redwood
communal tables full of feasting guests. If you'd like a
recap on the details, click here for my past mention back in March—just scroll down. Hours
are Sun–Thu 5pm–10pm (closed Tuesdays!), and Fri–Sat
5pm–11pm. 3917 Grand Ave. at Boulevard Way (more commonly
referred to being between Safeway and Ace Hardware), Oakland, 510-547-5035.
Later this fall, ~PICÁN
be opening in Oakland's "Uptown" at Broadway
and Grand. First-time restaurant owner and NOLA native Michael
LeBlanc will present a "Taste of the South," featuring
dishes that originated in African-American kitchens (think Southern,
Cajun, Creole and Caribbean influences) plus beverages, music,
and art unique to the African-American Southern heritage, with
some California-casual style. LeBlanc says the food will be "down
home traditional meets cosmopolitan sophistication." The
restaurant will be on the ground floor of Signature Properties' Broadway
Grand; LeBlanc expects to break ground this summer. LeBlanc
was among the first Black students to graduate from Duke University
and went on to become the first African-American corporate officer
in the history of Polaroid; he also co-founded Brothers Brewing
Company in Oakland, the first African-American brewing company
in the country. Being a smart first-time restaurateur, LeBlanc
has assembled a notable group of partners and advisors for this
project. Picán will have 130 seats with an additional 44
outside, with an open kitchen, and a bar and lounge featuring the
largest collection of handmade, single-batch bourbons west of the
Mississippi (I am so there). 2295 Broadway at Grand, Oakland.
Up north, ~MURRAY
the restaurant at Sausalito's about-to-open Cavallo Point Resort,
had its soft opening last Monday. Executive chef Joseph Humphrey,
the noted former chef of Meadowood Resort in St. Helena, has put
together a small plates menu with seafood dishes like spot prawns
with fava beans and little gem lettuces ($17); wild halibut grilled
in fig leaves with sassafras, orange, and fennel "brandade" ($16);
vegetables like baby artichokes served chilled ($15); wild morels
with hand-cut pappardelle, favas, and duck prosciutto ($16/$25);
meat dishes like quail with romesco, Swiss chard, dry-cured olives,
and arugula ($18); and a bluefoot chicken with Savoy cabbage and
mustard seed vinaigrette ($19). There is also a nightly five-course
tasting menu for $95, and a vegetable tasting menu for $75. The
wine list is a monster, representing one of America's largest wine
fully assembled by wine director Dan O'Brien, it will feature over
13,000 bottles and 2,000 labels. The 100-seat restaurant has lovely
views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay, a brick fireplace,
plus a terrace with room for 20. There is also an adjoining
bar, Farley, named in honor of cartoonist Phil Frank that will
also be serving additional dishes, from some crudos to olive oil-fried
items (yup, olive-oil fried lamb meatballs), plus hearty wood-fired
options, like a grass-fed burger, sand dabs, beef brisket, and
a pork shoulder. Breakfast daily 7am–10am; lunch Mon–Fri
dinner Sun–Thu 5:30pm–10pm, Fri–Sat 5:30pm–11pm;
brunch Sat–Sun 11am–2:30pm. Farley Bar is open Sun–Thu
11am–11pm, and Fri–Sat 11am–12am. 601 Murray
Circle, Fort Baker, Sausalito, 415-339-4750.
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